In May of 2018 I wrapped up Arabic classes and studies in Morocco, so, naturally, during my last weekend there I traveled six hours to Marrakech for my last women’s ultimate Frisbee clinic.
Just for a bit of a recap, here is the story of me playing ultimate in Morocco:
In May of 2017, I graduated from the University of Maryland, and I cried all the way home from regionals. I was sad I wouldn’t be able to continue playing the sport I loved while in Morocco, because there was no way I’d be able to find consistent playing opportunities close enough to where I was staying in Meknes, the biggest forgotten city in Morocco.
But, I only lasted a few months before I decided that I had to seek out a way to keep playing. Eventually, after contacting a few random Facebook pages claiming to be Frisbee teams in nearby cities, I met up with a group of people and got to play beach ultimate a few times in August and September.
By the end of August, I stumbled upon a page advertising the “first Moroccan ultimate Frisbee hat tournament” in Casablanca in October. I signed up for it online and figured out how to pay the small fee of 100 dirham (~$11) at the bank. This tournament ended up being organized by my now very good friend, Mariem Mebsout, and her husband, Samir. I put myself out there, traveled to Casablanca by myself (my friends arrived on a later train), stayed overnight at a stranger’s house (Mariem’s) and spent the entire next day playing my favorite sport.
Since that moment, I returned to Casablanca, as well as traveled to various other cities, to play Frisbee and hang out with Mariem. In November, I also helped organize a youth clinic to teach the community of Kenitra about ultimate Frisbee.
Throughout my time getting to know Mariem, I learned that she was recently selected by the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) to represent Morocco on the Women in Sports commission and that she shared a passion of mine – encouraging women to play sports in general, but specifically ultimate Frisbee. We decided to work together to tackle some of the biggest challenges faced by Moroccan women when getting into sports: accessibility, proper encouragement and positive female role models.
I pledged to Mariem that I would host two all-female clinics, with the purpose of providing women in Morocco the tools and knowledge to play on teams (which are primarily mixed), and I hoped to instill in them the confidence to become leaders on their teams as well. I feel passionately about the positive role of sport in the lives of women and girls and how it can greatly impact them in many other parts of their lives, such as personal hopes, dreams and academics.
Another challenge I faced throughout these efforts was the lack of discs. So, between a GoFundMe fundraiser and a partnership with ARIA ultimate, I received over $500 in donations and over 100 donated and purchased discs. The next step after receiving the donated discs was to somehow get them to Morocco, as shipping to Morocco was expensive, inefficient and sometimes risky. I asked family members, friends, family friends and one of our program supervisors who was visiting Morocco to receive a package of 10-20 discs and then bring them along when they came. This was surprisingly successful and I was able to receive all of the discs that were donated.
With the money that was donated, I was able to purchase pinnies, field space, snacks and water for the two clinics, as well as pay back the costs of an extra checked bag for a few of my friends. At the end of the clinic, I handed out a donated disc to every participant, providing these women the physical tools necessary for practicing and building their confidence in the sport. I also hoped for them to bring the discs back to their communities and teach their friends or families about this rapidly growing sport, such as my friend Khadija did. She was my language partner and close friend in Meknes, and she traveled with me to both of the clinics. She now has three discs (one from each clinic and another that I gave to her from my personal disc collection). She has already taught a group of her friends how to play, and she plans to teach even more. Who knows, maybe she will spark the start of a team in Meknes!
Anyways, I spent my last weekend in Morocco hosting my final clinic, and it went wonderfully. Most of the participants were brand new to ultimate and had never played before. We had around 16 girls show up, and they all seemed to have a great time and learned a lot. Last week, Mariem led an all-female clinic in Tangier (which I couldn’t attend due to testing), where she gave out even more discs to women there. I am so hopeful about the future of Moroccan women in ultimate and I know that, even after I leave, Mariem will continue her efforts, hopefully with stronger tools and greater outreach than before!
If you want to see more pictures from my clinics, take a look at the Moroccan Women’s Ultimate page (run by Mariem) and give it a like to keep up with her future efforts!